US Attorney General William Barr said that the deployment of the National Guard in the District during the recent George Floyd demonstrations was necessary in a letter to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Barr’s response followed Mayor Bowser’s message to President Donald Trump and other senior officials in his administration, criticizing the use of the National Guard in DC against the protesting crowds.
On June 1, the DC National Guard was activated in the city with its 3,400 members, along with members dispatched from Florida, Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
Kerri Kupec, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, posted Barr’s letter on social media.
“The District has a long history of hosting peaceful demonstrations, and had the recent demonstrations remained peaceful and within the control of local law enforcement, the President would never have had any need to augment existing resources for the purpose of restoring law and order,” Barr said in the letter.
“Unfortunately, that was not the case last week,” he continued, citing dozens of federal and MPD officers being injured, the Treasury Department annex being breached, protesters removing pavers from Lafayette Park to throw at the police and setting ablaze the basement of St. John’s Episcopal Church, as well as the looting of small businesses during the unrest.
Letter from Attorney General Barr to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on the Trump Administration’s restoration of law and order to the District. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/4ufyFh8fxk
— Kerri Kupec DOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) June 9, 2020
Sunday, May 31 was “reportedly the most violent day of civil unrest in the District in 30 years,” he added. The media coverage of these events gave the viewers in the country and around the world the impression that the US was losing control of its capital city, according to the Attorney General.
“I can assure you that all of the federal and National Guard personnel operating within the District have been doing so consistent with authorities provided under federal law and the law of the District of Columbia,” Barr wrote.
In her letter to the Trump administration last week, Bowser had asked for unmarked Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officers to be withdrawn from DC streets, complaining that these officers were breaking the chains of command in the city.
She also expressed her disappointment with federal officers’ use of tear gas and weapons against peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park on June 1, ahead of President Trump’s photo op with a Bible at St. John’s Church.